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A couple weeks ago, at the release party for the new Saeculum Cellars/Bodega Pierce wines at Four-Eight Wineworks, Michael Pierce released the first ever Tempranillo vintage from Saeculum Cellars. Needing some liquid courage myself, I decided to talk about this wine (rather than the 2013 Gallia… which is also good, of course.)

2013 El Coraje Tempranillo. Spot the pretty lady.

2013 El Coraje Tempranillo. Spot the pretty lady.

The Wine: As you probably guessed, “El Coraje” is “The Courage,” a name that not only is a pun on the idea of “liquid courage,” but also an homage to the Spanish heritage of Tempranillo.  This wine is 100% Tempranillo, coming entirely from Rolling View Vineyards–the old Crop Circle vineyard for you long-time Arizona wine drinkers. It was made from the first harvest from the Tempranillo vines, only about .65 tons worth.  It was aged on 20% new American Oak, reminicent of a Rioja, for 16 months, then further aged for 8 months in bottle.  The wine was racked twice.

The Nose:  The nose of this wine is incredibly earthy, with notes of cavendish tobacco, plum, vanilla, and cedar.  As the wine opens, notes of mulberry, sage, and iris also emerge from the glass.

The Palate:  Notes of explosive plum intermingle with cherry and lavender on the opening of this wine’s palate.  Notes of cedar and frankincense intermingle with lingering tannins on the finish, and as the wine opens, subtle notes of sage also emerge.  It’s a little lighter-bodied than most other expressions of Arizona Tempranillo, but this is to be expected, since this was fruit from the very first harvest. The finish lasts for about 40 seconds.  There’s also a noticeable acidity to this wine too.

Pairing: At the release party at Four-Eight Wineworks, this wine was paired with meatballs and parmesan, which was a pretty good pairing; a better one would be slow-roasted, smoked Barbeque spare ribs.  A vegan/vegetarian pairing for this wine would be a nice, slow-cooked caponata; historically wines from Rioja are some of the few wines that will stand up to asparagus also, and the American oak on this wine lends it a Rioja-style air.

Impression:  For a first vintage from a particular set of vines, the El Coraje is hard to beat.  I’ve always been impressed with Arizona Tempranillo, and this wine is no exception.  I’m looking very forward to future vintages from these vines as they mature.

Like most Tempranillo, this wine is a very sexy, sultury woman who is your best friend’s sister that you have a crush on. 🙂

Sidenote, I did a podcast with a bottle of this wine on Halloween of 2016.